7 Natural Cough Remedies for Persistent & Dry Coughs
It’s never a fun situation when you have a persistent cough. You don’t want to be that person in a quiet room during a lecture that can’t stop breaking the silence with your hacking, or that person at the restaurant that makes people fling themselves over their plates to protect their food while you cough away. Or that person on the plane that everyone throws disgusted looks at. Coughs are just terribly uncomfortable all around, both physically and otherwise.
There are two primary types of coughs, dry and productive. A productive cough is one in which you are coughing up phlegm or mucous-this is not a cough that should be suppressed, as your body needs to rid itself of the gunk that’s in your chest/lungs. While it shouldn’t be suppressed, some of these remedies will address a productive cough by including an expectorant, or something that loosens mucous and makes it easier for the body to get rid of.
A dry, hacking, cough is another story. This is one we do want to stop. It can be caused by allergies, dry air, a random tickle at the back of your throat that won’t go away, the aftermath of a cold, being in a dusty environment, etc. etc. For these we turn to demulcents, ingredients that soothe irritated mucous membranes and remove the irritant triggering the cough. Studies conducted in 2004 found that the main ingredients in cough syrup (dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine) have the same effectiveness in treating coughs as a placebo ingredient. Instead of turning to chemical solutions for every minor ailment, try some home remedies instead. They are not only better for you, but they taste a whole lot better than most cough syrup too!
1. A Spoonful of Honey
Studies, such as one conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, have found that honey can work more efficiently to calm a cough than over-the-counter drugs. It is a rich demulcent, with a high viscosity and stickiness that does an incredible job of coating and soothing those irritated mucous membranes. Thanks to an enzyme added by bees when they harvest honey, it also has antibacterial properties as well, which may help shorten how long you have the cough if it is due to bacterial illness.
Note: This is an excellent alternative remedy for both kids and adults, but should never be given to children under the age of 2 years due to the risk of botulism.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of organic, raw, honey
Take 1 tablespoon of honey 1-3 times daily as needed to control coughing. Take immediately before bed if cough is disrupting your sleep. For children, you can adjust the dosing to 1 teaspoon up to one tablespoon.
2. Licorice Root Tea
Licorice root is both an expectorant and demulcent, simultaneously soothing your airways while loosening and thinning mucous, easing congestion. It can also ease any inflammation that may be irritating your throat. Its main constituent, glycyrrhizin, is responsible for most of its effects. 30-50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), it inhibits an enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (how would like you to write that on a name tag?) This enzyme regulates access of glucocorticoid (a steroid hormone) to steroid receptors, ultimately slowing the conversion of cortisol to cortisone. This increases the effect of cortisol and reducing inflammation. If you are on steroids, or have any problems with your kidneys, it is best to steer clear of licorice root.
You will need…
-2 tablespoons of dried licorice root
-8 ounces of fresh water
Bring water to a boil and place the licorice root in a mug. Cover with water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink the entire cup up to 2 times daily.
3. Gargle Salt Water
Also a popular remedy for sore throats, salt water can ease the discomfort caused by a cough the same way it helps a sore throat-through osmosis. When the concentration of salt is higher outside of the cells in your mucous membranes, water flows out of the cells to balance everything out. When water leaves the cells, swelling goes down, and discomfort is decreased. If you have a cough that happens to come along with inflamed tissue, this is a good route to take. It can also help dislodge any phlegm that’s hanging out and allow you to expel it easily.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon of salt
-8 ounces of warm water
Stir salt into water until it is thoroughly dissolved. Gargle for 15 seconds, spit, and repeat with the remaining water. Rinse with plain water afterwards.
4. Steam, Steam, Steam!
I can’t say how underrated steam is when it comes to anything dealing with a cough, cold, or congestion. Not only does the steam quite literally loosen mucous and phlegm, almost immediately, but you can add numerous essential oils that will impart wonderful healing benefits. These benefits (anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory etc.) do become airborne, so you inhale them while you breathe in the steam. For this particular blend I’ve included both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, which can help soothe and open your airways as well as help fight off bacteria or a virus.
You will need…
-3 drops of tea tree oil
-1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil
-A bowl of water
-A soft, clean, towel
Bring enough water to a boil to halfway fill a medium size-heat proof bowl. Pour the water into it, let it cool slightly for 30-60 seconds, and add the essential oils, giving it a quick stir to release the vapors. Lean over the bowl and get as close as you can while still being comfortable. Remember that steam can seriously burn! Use the towel to cover your head like a tent, trapping the steam, and breathe deeply. Ideally, do this for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day.
5. Tea Thyme
Thyme has been used for centuries, and was even used during one of the most devastating pandemics to take place in human history. The Black Death was a plague that peaked in Europe from 1346-1353. During that time, and in other incidents of the plague thereafter, townspeople would gather to burn large bundles of thyme to ward off the disease, or carry pockets of thyme on them. Indeed, thyme does have anti-microbial properties, but we’re not warding off any plague here-just your cough. Thyme relaxes the muscles of the trachea and bronchi, and also opens up airways. The result is less coughing, and increased comfort.
You will need…
-a handful of fresh thyme sprigs OR 2 tablespoons dried thyme
-8 ounces of fresh water
-Honey or lemon (optional)
Lightly bruise the thyme, e.g. with a mortar and pestle, and then place in a mug. Cover with 8 ounces of boiling water, cover, and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Add some lemon or honey to taste, and drink the whole thing. Repeat 2-3 times daily as needed. It’s absolutely delightful just before bedtime (unless you aren’t a fan of thyme. But drink some anyways.)
6. Pepper & Honey
Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice, but most of its use is limited to the culinary world. What people don’t know is that it can make a great remedy for coughs that are accompanied by a lot of mucous or chest congestion. If you’ve accidently leaned too close to black pepper while it’s being grinded, you know it can make you cough or tickle your nose. This may not be fun on a regular basis, but it’s a plus if you need to expel all the nasty stuff that’s gunking up your lungs. The honey adds its antibacterial properties, and it makes it so the pepper isn’t too irritating. You can make black pepper “syrup” with honey, or a tea, as below. If possible, use freshly ground black pepper, as the pre-ground pepper simply seems to lose some of its punch.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 tablespoon of honey
-8 ounces of fresh water
Place the pepper and honey in a mug and then cover with boiling water. Give it stir to disperse the pepper flakes and melt in the honey. Steep for 10 minutes, stir once more, and drink in its entirety. Repeat 1-2 times a day as needed to loosen mucous.
7. Ginger Peppermint Syrup
Here you get the soothing qualities of warming ginger, all wrapped up in a delicious easy to swallow cough syrup. Spicy ginger works as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucous from the lungs. It can also stop the painful tickle at the back of throat that can trigger a cough if the first place, if you are experiencing a dry cough. The peppermint will also help relieve the irritating tickle of a cough.
You will need…
-3 tablespoons of chopped ginger
-1 tablespoon of dried peppermint
-4 cups of water
-1 cup of honey
Chop the ginger and add it along with the peppermint to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid simmer. Simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half, than strain. Let it cool slightly, and then stir in 1 cup of honey until it has been dissolved completely. Bottle and take 1 tablespoon every few hours as needed to ease your cough. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
-I cannot stress the importance of covering your tea while it steeps. Not only does it keep it piping hot, it traps all the steam and any of the volatile oils in the steam (and their benefits) in the cup for you to inhale when you uncover it.
You may also like our natural expectorant and decongestant
P.S. Make sure to take a look at the Everyday Roots Book with 350+ pages of the best home remedies, natural beauty recipes, homemade cleaners and diy household products. View Remedies
By Claire GoodallClaire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything 🙂 Meet Claire
We Want to Hear from You! Let us know which remedies work and do not work for you, ask a question or leave a comment:
I have the dry tickle type of cough. My doctor says it is partially due to post nasal drip, but there is nothing they can do for that. What say you?
My 10yo son has the same problem as described by Elaine Melair. please advice
I have the same problem. Post naval drip and a dry cough. My wife boils hot water and mixes it with raw honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice for me to drink. You can also use peppermint tea and mix with lemon juice and raw organic honey. You have to drink it hot. It helped me a lot.
For the post nasal drip I do ACV/Lemon shots 2-3 times a day. I use 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/8-1/4tsp cayenne pepper and 1T honey in a cup. Pour in just enough very hot water to melt honey and the spices. Then add 1Tbl each lemon juice and ACV. Stir well and drink up. Im not sure how it all works together, but it dries up the sinus mucus to stop that nasty drip. It’s not immediate, so one dose won’t work before bedtime tonight, but if used for a couple days, it works for our family.
**You can omit or adjust the spices if you like. Both serve a purpose in this concoction, but you can surely adapt to your needs/likes.
I fnd the neti pot is the best thing for post nasal drip. The salt water really dries it all up, and gets rid of any bacteria that are lurking.
Use a Netipot for the postnasal drip issue … it will stop the cough and works miracles for me!
I got really bad dry cough what can use to rid of from dis cough please help me for dis
Hi. Take 2 table spoon of honey and 3 table spoon of brandy. Mix it together and lick it.
Repeat this at least 3 times a day. U will certainly feel better and relaxed.
Plenty of sleep your body is more relaxed when you sleep and will fight it off quicker
I am so sorry to hear of your persistent cough. I actually have no experience in this hole home remedy thing. I too struggle with this itchy throat persistance. I wish you the best of luck with your search for the remedy that will best suit you.
Just eat 1 spoon of honey…
it helped me..
I hope it’ll help you
I had an end-of-flu cough, and had coughed so much my rib cage was sore. That night I drank thyme tea, had a spoonful of local, raw honey, and gargled with salt water. Amazingly, I slept through the night with not one cough! Thanks Clare!
Massage a generous amount of Vicks on your feet and put on socks before going to bed. It will help tremendously with coughing and help you sleep better.
I too use vicks,It works really well. When my 3 yr old had coughing fits, i would rub vicks on his chest, back and feet (put socks on). It works almost immediately.
I am currently trying the honey and lime trick and im doing the vicks rub on feet with socks on my back and chest and sucking on halls cough drops so lets see if this works i havent been able to sleep for two nights so my fingers are crossed
Wow im just going to say right now thank you guys so much forall of the tips i was just able to take a deep breath in without coughing and the itch in my throat is almost gone i think im going to have a good night thank you and the vicks, well, im am so relaxed already, that was fast
Yay! So glad it worked Lynda!
This is true about the Vicks rub, because I use this remedy for my children they slept all night. Two thumbs up….
My 3year old had a terrible cough for 4months until I read on ur site the use of herbal medicine,you don’t know how thankful iam..I have been giving him thyme tea en now the cough en flu has cleared not completely but his now comfortable..thank you very much.may God bless you,
one instant fix is mint, three or four frisks are like magic but is not a cure, I grated two finger size of ginger, two/three spoons of turmeric , one chopped lemon, put them on a jar and cover with raw honey, took away the bad mood of the flu , u can make a tea with ginger an turmeric but lemon and honey won’t like hot, at least that’s what they say, if u are brave enough, chop an onion, put on a mixer with four cloves of garlic, cover with lemonade (home made) , give a spin and bottoms up.
For the record, all of this are on my own experience, works for me and I really hope it do the same for everyone, if it doesn’t I don’t take any responsibility.
I live in Fiji, and we don’t have most of the ingredients, i’ve got honey and ginger though, but, the honey is not raw as mentioned.
What do i use????
Hey there Iga,
Don’t know if you are still having coughing issues, but you can still use that honey in combination with lemon juice, and a strong liquor such as brandy, rum or tequila. My father used to make this for me growing up and it ALWAYS helped.
Basically, you take about a tablespoon of honey, juice from half a lemon, and roughly a shot of whatever strong liquor you have (My father used rum or tequila). Combine it all and add a small amount of hot water, maybe 1/2 a cup. Drink this while it still quite hot, preferrably as you are going to bed.
This remedy has always consistently given me relief from persistent coughs. If you need to give this to a small child, simply use less alcohol. When I was younger, he may have used 1/2 tbs of alcohol in my “hot tonic”. Hope this helps. God bless you in the name of Jesus.
My doctor tends to give me a steroid to open up my breathing airways due to post nasal drip because my cough can last for weeks with no end in sight
Take pure cow ghee little warm / hot and place two three drops in nose while laying down in bed and slowly breath / inhale it in respiration Second apply any eatable vegetable oil preferable coconut oil just touching by finger inside nose and smell , take in respiration THIRD in hot boiling water add few drops of ecu litmus (nilgiri) oil and by covering face by cloth around your head take it’s vapor in inhaling keep eyes closed . for few minutes.
I’ve been coughing for 8 years…….that’s right….8 years. I cough summer, winter spring and fall. I’ve been to my family doctor, allergist, an ear nose and throat doctor…..to mention a few. I’ve had chest xrays. an endoscopy ,cat scan of the chest and throat and extensive blood work.Even had the vents in my house professionally cleaned.Had cameras up my nose and down my throat. I won’t even begin to list all the medications I’ve been on. Believe it or not, I’m quite healthy and active ( I’m in my mid seventies) I feel that if my cough is so bad, I should be dead by now…..but I’m still kicking and coughing.
I hope this will help. I had severe cough after a Flu it lasted 3 months. I decide to try grandma ‘s recipe, take fresh ginger peel and slide thin put it on a pan 1/4 cup water add 2 Tbs. Organic honey let it cook until is soft, let it cool then put it on a container and eat a piece as needed. It work for me. Good luck!
It sounds like you have some sort of infection or irritation in the throat that they cannot pinpoint ….. Slice up a white onion as fine as you can get it use a mandolin if you can then add 1/3 cup of honey to it , then put it in a container and leave it in the fridge. It will have the most effect after 12 hours but you can start using it right away .
Press down and use only a liquid as medicine .
My family has been doing this for three decades and it is the only thing that helps us get rid of coughs better than over-the-counter medication.
The antibacterial effects of the onion and the honey combined will help whatever is affecting your throat I hope.
Hope one of these will give you some relief.
Wow, just wanted to say thank you. Been having a bad cough and I now understand that its a dry cough and how I can properly treat it. Going for honey, liquorish tea and steaming straight away!
I have been experiencing a stuffy cold for the last 4 days now, I have a tendancy to get bronchitis if the caugh is not dealt with quickly, saw this site last night so went and bought the items needed, made the ginger,mint & honey sirupe and must say thank you, it is working for me 🙂 am also taking spoons of the raw honey every few hours, very soothing, pleasantly surprised 🙂
Hi. Back 12 months ago i had the miller fisher virus have been going on not to bad really been doing some work etc! Just lately been feeling like got a cold coming which i’m told is normal with this virus, the only thing is i’ve got this niggling chesty cough with fleum which is hard to move. Can anyone recommend anything herbal and safe i can use! Many thanks.
I am just getting over the flu from the holidays. I now have a constant dry cough that is trigging me to have asthma attacks. I am taking Tylenol Cold & Flu but it does not seem to work. I need a good home remedy to cure my cough. Any suggestions?
Does anyone know if Agave works the same as honey?
Agave does not have the antibacterial components that honey has however it might be useful to sweeten your remedies
I have dry cough for almost one week, base one my experience the garlic, ginger and black pepper is effective for me, just boil them together and drink with lemon is best for me, just remove all residues after boiled
I have had severe bronchitis now for 5 weeks. I have had steroid shots, antibiotic shots, steroid pills, two rounds of antibiotics, inhalers, steroid inhalers and breathing treatments every four hours. My airways won’t stay open and this gives me a cough so bad that it hurts every time I cough. Do you have any suggestions on anything herbal that would he me? I’m desperate.
I use Vicks on my 6 yrs old child. Just rub it bottom of your feet put on a pair of sock and watch you will stop coughing It works wonderful.
Dear Angela ,
Let me suggest one home remedy for you. Take one or two spoon juice of redish (muli) add little rock salt and one spoon honey and mix and take two three times a day. Second : Keep a piece of raw ginger in mouth ….Third crush few fresh garlic and extract one spoon juice and take it Fourth Eat turmeric fresh in diet or take it’s powder in hot water with little salt . .. still if not cured contact on my email
Licorice root, although very effective for coughs, is not recommended for people who suffer from hypertension (high blood-pressure).
Thank you for your hints. Typically I’ll start with (my VERY favorite) oil of oregano, 2 drops into water for children, 4 for adults and minutes later has subsided, tonight wasnt the case. Ive had great successfor both wet and dry. Going to try the honey. Happy healing.
My 10 month old has had an ongoing cough for some months now. He has is chest filled with mucus and cannot seem to get rid of it. He stays sick with a cold and is now experiencing fever. What are suggestions of clearing this mucus and cough and now fever? I need help immediately.
Thank you sharing some great home remedies for cough. I love your website! Another remedy i use is a mixture of equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar. Mix well by shaking and take a tablespoon every 4 hours.
Honey and red onion works really well too.
chamomille tea with 3-4 teaspoobd of hOney. Chamomille is anti-inflamatory. I purchase the chamomille flower packets in the latin section of supermarket. Boil the dru flowers and ise strainer as you pour the tea.
Hi there, I have had a persistent dry cough for over a year now. It has really done my head in at times, particularly being in a cinema, air conditioning, know what I mean. I do the honey and lemon and ginger thing, it sort of helps, I do the hot shower thing, sort of helps. Thanks for all the tips above everyone. Cheers. x
Sir I have a continous cough since 3 days. Plz suggest me any medicine. It is paining severely
Thank you for the useful tips! One very effective drink for shifting phlegm is hot milk, a pinch of bicarb soda, a knob of butter and a tsp of raw honey. It doesnt taste very nice, but it broke the dry cough almost immediately. I also use sea salt foot baths followed by wollen socks and raspberry leaf tea with a shot of a strong herbal liqueur
Hi, just want to share what I know – use only raw honey! If it was boiled, or even warmed up above body temp – it loses all it’s goodness and becomes as good as regular sugar. If it is boiled – it actually becomes cancerogenic. If you buy honey locally just pay attention to the appearance – fresh honey will stay in liquid form only a couple of month after that is is crystallized. People often mix honey with sugary syrups to keep it looking runny and to make more volume for profit. Be aware! Honey is extremely good for you, but with dry cough – not sure. It actually does dry your throat more.
Saw my MD recently for chest congestion, post nasal drip and constant tickly cough – 24/7.
Was put on Augmentin (2xda for 10 days) for the chest (no pneumonia or bronchitis). She also recommended to take Mucinex (blue/white box). And the following – Netti pot which washes out the nasal cavity where the problem starts and a sale water gargle for the throat. Also any good green tea and add mint, fresh lemon, raw honey, cinnamon, curcumin, ginger grated in the tea and thyme. Mix aprx. 1/2 to 1 tsp of ea. as you prefer and breath in steam while you drink. Also rest as much as you can and eat healthy. I keep this up for days until relief comes. Hope this helps! None of these statements are meant for everyone or as a cure.
Hi all, the natural remedies are good, I have made one vital discovery that the most effective way to keep your airways open is to relax. Keep repeating to the brain that there is no danger or the danger has now been overcome. If possible kèep a piece of ginger in your mouth and suck it like a lozenge when required. It is very important for the brain to know that the battle is over. So calm down let your brain know. Slowly you will see your airways relaxing as well. Will take a day or 2. Meanwhile have luke warm water. This has worked for me. Hydration is very important
My 3 year old daughter is now suffering from severe cough and colds for 3 weeks. I already give her medicines like antibiotics but there’s no changes. I’m worried to give her another brand of antibiotics. What should I do is there another herbal medicine’s aside to Oregano leaf?
My 9yr old has a dry persistent cough for 3wks now. We’ve tried several cough syrups, antibiotics, cough perles, and antihistamines. Nothings working. We’ve done x-rays to see if there’s pneumonia. I feel so helpless. What should I do?!!
My 9 year old has had the worse cough for 4 wks… U name it we’ve tried it. Its weird to see someone going through the exact thing we are… He’s now being treated with zantac for gerd but that doesn’t seem to help either never felt so desperate
My doctor has told me that I have post nasel drip. And I have always had it, I’m not sure why. But if you have the same drinking water is the best way to make it happen less often.
This site is a throat saver, it’s just what I need.
I had a really bad dry cough, it was so bad that I felt my throat was cut with knives every time I coughed. I mixed 1tsp of turmeric with 2 tsp of good quality clear honey, and took a tsp every hour. The cough stopped immediately after taking the first spoon. Try it its amazing.
pour fizzy cola into a mug with half a squeezed lemon, grated ginger and a table spoon of honey. Boil in microwave until bubbling. Leave to cool slightly and drink. I also take a spoonful of cinnamon mixed with honey.
If you are hoarse – get herbal tablets from most pharmacys called “vocalzone” used by professional singers!
When I cough I often urinate a little when can I do to stop urinating while coughing?
I use R.C. in cold mist disfuser as well on bottoms of feet, chest and neck. I would take a detox bath (1c if espon salt mix with 1table spoon of bakingsoda and 5 drops of ginger oil 10 drops of lavender add 1 cup of ACV put in hottest water inyub you can be in stsy in at least 26 min. R.C. has four types of Eucalyptus in it plus myrtle,pine, lavender, cypress, spruce,peppermint, marjoram. It is sold by youngliving for under $11 love it!
Thnx guys 4 ur help i will try it nd tell the result afterwards
my wife told me to drink honey and milk (warm) it is very beneficial for people with a sore throat. she is never wrong!!! try it today SNM
Before reading the post I took one Clove on side of my mouth and biting it slowly. By the time I finish reading the post about 5-10 minutes. My cough stopped which has been bothering me for about last 5 hours.
May be calming down and concentrating on reading also helped. Not sure.
I have low immune system as far as I remember since my childhood. Once I get viruses or bacterial, my lungs get inflamed aftermath. Post nasal drip adds in and each episode lasts weeks to months. I also catch germs faster than anyone in my circle. Currently I am going through post viral coughing which reduced with all remedies written and known to me, even yoga helped. However while eating something went in my airways and that triggered again coughing! It’s not slowing down, could not sleep due to that.
Add turmeric powder, honey to warm milk and drink. you will see the change right away.
I have been suffering from this annoying dry cough for nearly 4 months. It may be because of post nasal drip. Had tried bronchial dilator, anti histamines and antibiotic too but cough comes back again. I regularly drink ginger tea and had tried honey as well but nothing helped. I also drink lots of water. I don’t cough all the time but when it comes it doesn’t go easily.
Help. I m getting desperate with every passing day.
None of them worked for me my cough is like a deep lung type of cough it’s a dry cough but I cough so much that I literally throw up so yeah if anybody else in the comments have any other idea please reply I am 11 and need to get rid of This cough immediately I have been hulusinating feeling dizzy every time I cough sometimes I fined it hard to breath and than I get bad asthma attacks as well as I have a giant head cold wich is making everything worse so please help me out
I know the feeling i just tried the raw honey one and salt water gargle neither of them worked.
A cup of Brandy with boil water definitely helps to pull out cough , but I don’t know how to cure bacterial infection with it.
What kind of clove? Garlic??
I tried the licorice root tea and also thyme tea w organic honey – they both worked to quiet my cough and loosen up the mucous on my chest, however cant shake this cough six days later, it goes from dry itchy cough to wheezing and trying to break up. The tumeric w honey seemed to help a little as well. The licorice root tea is delicious.
There’s a lot of wonderful advice here that I certainly will try, thanks! Just remember never to give honey to children below one year of age; it can lead to infant botulism.